The Runback: Steele Trap
Michael Steele is exploring a run for Governor. He should run for another office instead.
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The Monday Thought
Last week it was reported that former Lt. Governor Michael Steele has formed an exploratory committee to run for Governor of Maryland:
Steele’s de facto campaign manager, Jim Dornan, had this to say to Maryland Matters:
“Michael has been getting a ton of phone calls from people encouraging him to run, and he’s taking it very seriously,” he said. “He has a vision for the future of Maryland. And he’d be carrying the Hogan vision into the next generation.”
Dornan asserted that even with Steele’s endorsement of President Biden in the 2020 presidential election, the former lieutenant governor will have broad appeal in a Republican primary.
“Michael still has a lot of goodwill in the state,” he said. “Just because he’s not a fan of President Trump doesn’t mean that he’s not a conservative. He’s the same small government conservative he was as Gov. [Robert] Ehrlich’s lieutenant.”
While I agree with the former Lt. Governor about his disdain for the leftism of Donald Trump and nobody can question Steele’s small-government bonafides, this is the wrong race for him to be pursuing.
Everything that Steele brings to the table can also be said of Commerce Secretary Kelly Schulz. She’s a small government conservative that has been active in State Government for years. While Steele has been a talking head on MSNBC and in other places, Schulz has been working to implement these same small government principles in the Hogan Administration.
Bottom line is that Kelly Schulz has more than enough support already to win the Republican Primary. a gubernatorial primary that Steele has no path to win.
That’s not to say that Steele shouldn’t run in Maryland. Steele should run for the U.S. Senate instead.
Instead of entering a Republican Primary where he would be a severe underdog, Steele could walk to the Senate nomination. His focus in recent years has been on national issues, and a Senate run would allow him to use his experience talking about those issues freely.
Currently, the only announced Republican candidates for Senate are a perennial candidate and a fringe QAnon activist. No candidate of consequence has announced a run, and none likely will. Steele could easily win the primary and keep his fire on where it belongs: Democrats.
Besides, Steele’s endorsement of President Joe Biden would be useful in a Senate general election; it would be a fatal blow in a competitive Republican gubernatorial primary.
Steele might instinctively know this. Instead of establishing a state campaign account, Steele established a 527 group. Creating such a group would make it easier to switch from a gubernatorial race to a Senatorial race without having to forgo any money raised for his quixotic gubernatorial run.
Steele for Governor is illogical and potentially little more than a vanity exercise. Steele for Senate, however, would round out a strong and diverse statewide Republican ticket. The right move is obvious; the only question remains is to see if Steele makes it.